15 October 2012
It is apparent that interest groups have evolved over time with the changing nature of the American political system. We know that regardless of the beneficiary or detrimental effect they may have on our democracy, that they do play specific roles in policy formation, the election process, and voter identification and turnout. This section seeks to examine the positive and negative characteristics and theories that exist in accordance with interest groups, show defined areas of inconsistencies within those theories, and provide insight into new theoretical criteria for the study of the political effectiveness of interest groups in the American democratic system.
We know from the literature that the main goal of interest groups is to exercise their power in order to gain political benefits (prenhall). Dominant interest groups within the United States are mainly economical and occupational, but there are several varieties of minority groups, ideological groups, religious groups, etc.… In comparing the roles of interest groups over time, the literature found that the efforts of interest groups over the past few decades have become far more significant, as they have become more involved in the political process through the use of political action committees (prenhall). This verifies that interest groups have played a major role in the election process over the past
few decades, as well as the fact that they have highly influenced voter identification through either specific interests or public interests.
Some key characteristics defined in the literature, when assessing the effectiveness of these interest groups, were the current status of a given society at a certain time, the typology of the interest group, and the cost and benefit factor associated with them. In relation, each of these key concepts for measuring interest groups directly affects one another. In...